turtles tagged posts

Can these great marine migrators navigate rising human threats?

For millions of years, countless sea turtles navigated the world’s oceans, migrating vast distances between foraging sites and natal nesting beaches. But today, those long journeys repeatedly expose them to harmful anthropogenic impacts and disruptive environmental changes. And despite worldwide conservation efforts, all seven sea turtle species are endangered or critically endangered at global or regional levels.

The mass movement of these, and other animals, by land, sea or air, represents one of Earth’s ancient rhythms and one of its great wonders. Those migrations also weave together vital living threads that strengthen ecosystem structure.

Now, for myriad reasons — including human-made physical hazards, climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and much more — the frayed fab...

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Mediterranean turtles recovering at different rates

Numbers of two Mediterranean turtle species have risen in the last three decades – but in Cyprus the recoveries are happening at different rates, new research shows. Nest counts at 28 beaches show green turtle nests increased by 162% from 1993 to 2019, while loggerhead nests rose by 46%. The research team – from the University of Exeter, the Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT) and Eastern Mediterranean University – say the difference is probably due to higher death rates among loggerhead turtles of all ages.

Turtles in this region used to be hunted for meat and shells, but this is now banned throughout the Mediterranean. Coupled with conservation of nesting beaches, this has allowed populations to recover – but the scientists say better protection at sea is still required.

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Turtles can carry more than 100,000 tiny animals on their shells

A loggerhead turtle grazes on sea grass. In stirring up the sea floor, the animals can pick up tens of thousands of tiny hitchhikers—small animals such as nematodes, crustaceans, and hydroids.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles migrate thousands of miles through the world’s oceans, but they don’t travel solo – research shows they carry surprisingly diverse and abundant populations of tiny creatures on their shells.

A new paper published May 20 in the journal Diversity shows that loggerhead sea turtles carry an average of 34,000 individual meiofauna – tiny organisms smaller than one millimeter – on their backs. One loggerhead carried nearly 150,000 individual animals on its shell, including nematodes, crustacean larvae, and shrimp.

“There literally is a [whole] world on there,” says Jeroen Ingels, a marine ecologist at Florida State University. It’s wild to find “that kind of diversity on another organism.”

Ingels and his team discovered more than a hundred new species of meio...

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Crime-scene technique used to track turtles

Foraging Green turtle

Scientists have used satellite tracking and a crime-scene technique to discover an important feeding ground for green turtles in the Mediterranean. University of Exeter researchers measured “stable isotope ratios” – a chemical signature also used by forensic scientists – to discover which foraging grounds turtles had come from to breed in Cyprus.

They discovered that Lake Bardawil, on Egypt’s north coast, is now the most important foraging ground for turtles which breed at Alagadi in Cyprus.

The researchers believe few breeding females came from the Lake Bardawil feeding ground until 2010. It is likely that changes to the ecosystem have made this shallow saline lake a top foraging site.

“Our satellite tracking of turtles breeding in Cyprus has been going on for some years,” said senior au...

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Laws need reshaping to protect sea turtles

Sea Turtle near surface

An illegal trade in marine turtles is continuing despite legislation and conservation awareness campaigns, a pioneering study has shown.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter in the Cape Verde islands, 500 km off the West Coast of Africa, and one of the world’s leading nesting sites for the protected loggerhead species, found that the biological impact of the trade has been previously underestimated and that turtles are still being harvested and consumed.

The authors suggest that conservation interventions need to be refined and reassessed and believe the study’s findings will provide valuable knowledge about human behaviour and socio-economic influences for informing national policy-makers.

They recommend focusing both on suppliers and consumers for more robus...

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